FanExpo 2014 Recap

Not my most creative title, is it?

Well, FanExpo 2014 has come and gone. Man, it's already been over a week. There is so much that I could talk about, from the enormous beers at the Wayward launch party, to the runaround Jason and I had getting our badges, to casually greeting Neal Adams as I double-fisted slices of pizza on the last day of the con. I sold books, I made some new friends (and saw some old ones), and all in all I had an amazing experience, but of all the possible anecdotes I could share, the memory that will be most indelible to me will be the walk I took on the Saturday evening.

Saturday, for those of you who have never been to a nerd convention, is always the busiest day, and it showed in my end-of-day book sales, every one of which I worked fervently for. I was meeting some friends after the show at a pub about eight blocks or so uptown before we went to the Silver Snail's famous Moonlight Madness sale. I could have taken a ten minute walk to the subway and rode it for three stops, but I was feeling pretty good about myself, and I decided to walk.

No matter what direction you go when you leave the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on the Saturday of FanExpo, you become part of a massive march of the nerds. I may have looked slightly out-of-place with my sport jacket on amid all the cosplayers, but I had my Ninja Turtles t-shirt on underneath it, so maybe not. I listened to Anamanaguchi's latest album Endless Fantasy as I walked, and I was fed by the energy of the crowd, the energy of the music (which I've talked about waxing nostalgic on before), and my own energy from a great day.

It was after about two blocks or so that the crowd gradually dissipated, trickling ever so slowly until I could no longer tell if I was walking amid plainclothes conventioneers or simply everyday non-nerds. I turned onto Younge street and walked north, twilight painting a milky backdrop behind the towering Toronto skyline as music that reminded me of the carelessness daydreamer I was nearly half a lifetime ago provided the soundtrack.

When I was a teenager, I can remember writing little short stories, embarrassing pieces about my friends and I sharing some huge house as adults, and navigating life amid the worst shoujo anime tropes that I couldn't get enough of. They were indulgent and idealistic, and I am so glad that I did not have any ideas to post them online. It had never occurred to me in those silly little stories that I'd end up trying to make a career out of writing, which is ironic in hindsight, but I digress. As I walked up Younge that night, all the feelings I poured into those stories, that bygone sense of wish-fulfillment, all felt real. I was living the kind of dream I would have concocted for myself more than a decade ago, and it felt incredible.

I would go on that night to tell my friends, as I basked in my sense of success and sipped an IPA that was a poor decision the minute it rose a degree above its pouring temperature, that I felt like a king, and that the trip back to reality after the weekend concluded would doubtless be a difficult one. While the latter was certainly true, leaving my skin crawling in withdrawal until my next fix comes in the form of my Chapters signing, the former, not so much. The events of my very first FanExpo were sublime, and left me feeling a lot of things, but I wouldn't say I felt like a king. Rather, I felt like I had unlocked some kind of achievement, reached some kind of milestone. The work I put into my writing is, I would like to believe, very real, and FanExpo was my first real taste of what the payoff of that hard work was. Walking those twilit Toronto streets, I didn't feel like a king, I felt like an author, and that is a feeling I will forever relish.

P.S. Words cannot describe my gratitude to Jason Anarchy, for presenting me with more than just an opportunity, but inviting me to experience the whirlwind life of a professional creator by throwing me headlong into the fray. Everyone reading this (who is of legal drinking age) ought to go to right now and buy everything Jason has to offer, because I cannot think of anyone who better deserves to be rewarded for the fruits of his labour.